Sizing up swans
Did you know that the Trumpeter Swans we see on local lakes and rivers in the winter are the largest waterfowl species in the world?
Their 6 to 8 foot wingspan and 20-30lb bodies can dwarf even the mighty bald eagle!
This impressive size means they have to expend a tremendous amount of energy to become airborne and require nearly one hundred metres (325 feet) of "runway" in the water in order to start flying. Young cannot fly until nearly 4 months after hatching! Another swan that is sometimes seen in the winter around the Okanagan and Similkameen is the Tundra, or Whistling, Swan. Substantially smaller than their Trumpeter Swan relatives (second smallest swan in the world in fact!), they are much less commonly seen here, as only a small number will overwinter in the area.
Very rarely, a Mute Swan will be seen in the Okanagan. They are an introduced species from Europe and are easily identified by their orange bills with a large black bump on the base.